08/03/2011 11:01 am ET | Updated Oct 03, 2011

The Herd Mentality

The herd mentality has been very much in evidence in Washington, DC, the last few weeks. Make a deal, a "compromise," a "bipartisan" agreement; strike that "grand bargain," find the "middle ground," let's "move forward," let's make that "shared sacrifice," it's a "win-win situation," and by all means, make sure you're not "left behind."

Whatever. I never felt the urge to follow the herd. Particularly when it was heading over a cliff.

If the herd is moving in a good direction, I join it. If the herd is moving in a bad direction, I leave it. And if I see the opportunity to move the herd in a better direction, I take it. Sometimes that opportunity can be in the media, sometimes in a caucus meeting, sometimes with a bill or an amendment, and sometimes just a conversation with the right people.

That's leadership. As opposed to polling what's on people's minds, and then repeating it ad nauseam. That's pandering. I won't do that.

The easiest thing in the world is just to go with the flow. Just do what you're told. But if 700,000 people choose you to be their Representative, their only Representative, and they're depending on you, then they deserve more than that. As does all America.

They deserve original thought. And independent action.

Because if you are an elected official, a lawmaker, and all you do is follow the other lemmings, then when you reach the edge of the cliff, you're not the only one who falls. So do all the people who are depending on you. The unemployed. The sick. The poor. The children. Your mother and father, and everyone else's mother and father. When you fall over that cliff, then you take all of them down with you.

So it just can't be that way. If you want the job, then sometimes you have to have the strength, and the courage, to make up your own mind, and do what's right. No matter which way the mob may be moving.


Alan Grayson

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (1965).